So, have you seen the video of the mother shaving her daughter’s head because the girl made fun of someone with cancer? What followed was a plethora of good suggestions for this mother, from making her bullying daughter volunteer with cancer patients to apologizing to and helping the girl she bullied. While these seem like reasonable consequences for this behavior, maybe the first place to start is by not bullying our own children, as if returning evil for evil solves the problem. It doesn’t. Violence begets violence. Abuse begets abuse. Bullying begets bullying. Why do we hit our children and proclaim, “No hitting?” Why too, do we demand “no bullying” while we counter this bullying with more of the same?
Why has it come to this? Perhaps you’ve seen, as I have, teens with posters that read, “I am a bully! Honk if you hate bullies!” on the side of the highway. I’ve seen countless toddlers and small children shamed on social media with “cooperation” t-shirts, tethered to their siblings whilst crying and begging not to be filmed. Children who cut their own hair and as punishment have their heads shaved and pictures posted on the Intranet, are commonplace now. Parents videotaping their kids, mid-tantrum as a disciplinary measure and sharing these disturbing messages to “likes” and comments and “shares” of “what a great idea!” Really? Where does it end?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to consider that we’ve gone too far. Maybe then we can make the logical transition to shaming and hitting our kids as wrong. There is no growth, no discipline, no lesson learned from shaming our children. We often hold our children to a different and much higher standard than we hold ourselves. Kids are people too, with emotions and feelings and behaviors, both positive and not so positive. Maybe it’s time we all take a step back and think – would I want my mistakes, my errors posted online? Videotaped and shown to the world? If your answer to that is “no” then perhaps consider that your child is as human as you are, and rise up to the challenge of parenting with a heart, with compassion, with the wisdom that comes from learning from mistakes by getting the chance to try again, and not from being publicly humiliated.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!